Susi Broome

Written by Susi Broome

Modified & Updated: 04 Mar 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


DeForest Kelley, best known for his iconic role as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the legendary television series Star Trek, was a man of many talents and remarkable accomplishments beyond the realm of science fiction. With a career spanning over four decades, Kelley left an indelible mark on Hollywood and the hearts of millions of fans worldwide.

In this article, we will delve into the extraordinary life and career of DeForest Kelley, highlighting 24 fascinating facts about the man behind the iconic character. From his humble beginnings in rural Georgia to his rise to fame as one of Star Trek’s most beloved characters, Kelley’s journey is a testament to his talent, dedication, and unwavering passion for his craft.

So, fasten your seatbelts and prepare for a captivating ride through the life of DeForest Kelley, a true Hollywood legend.

Key Takeaways:

  • DeForest Kelley, best known as Dr. McCoy in “Star Trek,” was a talented actor, a kind-hearted person, and a role model for aspiring healthcare professionals. His legacy continues to inspire generations.
  • Kelley’s iconic portrayal of Dr. McCoy popularized memorable catchphrases and left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. His enduring love for acting and philanthropy made him a beloved Hollywood legend.
Table of Contents

DeForest Kelley was born on January 20, 1920, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Boasting a rich Southern heritage, Kelley grew up in a humble household and developed a passion for acting from an early age.

He served as a medic in World War II.

During the war, Kelley served in the United States Army as a medic, providing care and assistance to wounded soldiers.

DeForest Kelley made his film debut in the 1947 movie “Fear in the Night.”

This marked the beginning of his successful career in the entertainment industry.

He is best known for his role as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the original “Star Trek” series.

Kelley’s portrayal of the compassionate and humorous ship’s doctor earned him a special place in the hearts of “Star Trek” fans worldwide.

DeForest Kelley reprised his role as Dr. McCoy in six “Star Trek” movies.

He continued to captivate audiences with his performance in the highly acclaimed film franchise.

In addition to acting, Kelley was also an accomplished singer.

He showcased his vocal talents in various musical performances throughout his career.

The catchphrase “I’m a doctor, not a (insert profession)” became synonymous with his character.

Dr. McCoy’s witty one-liners and memorable quotes added an extra layer of charm to the show.

DeForest Kelley formed a close friendship with co-star Leonard Nimoy.

Their bond extended beyond the screen, and they remained lifelong friends until Kelley’s passing.

He made several guest appearances on other popular TV shows, including “Bonanza” and “The Twilight Zone.”

Kelley showcased his versatility as an actor by taking on a wide range of roles.

DeForest Kelley was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

This prestigious accolade recognized his contributions to the entertainment industry.

He was known for his kind and gentle personality.

Kelley’s warm nature made him beloved by his colleagues and fans alike.

DeForest Kelley was a philanthropist and supported various charitable causes.

He used his fame to make a positive impact on the world.

His portrayal of Dr. McCoy inspired many individuals to pursue careers in medicine.

Kelley’s character served as a role model for aspiring healthcare professionals.

DeForest Kelley was married to Carolyn Dowling for over five decades.

Their enduring love and partnership brought stability to his personal life.

He made a cameo appearance in the pilot episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

Kelley delighted fans by briefly reprising his iconic role.

DeForest Kelley was honored with a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor.

This recognition celebrated his outstanding performance in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

He appeared in various stage productions, showcasing his theatrical prowess.

Kelley’s talent extended beyond the silver screen.

DeForest Kelley’s legacy lives on through his timeless performances.

His contributions to “Star Trek” and the entertainment industry continue to inspire generations.

He received the Golden Boot Award in 2004 for his contributions to Western television and film.

Kelley’s versatility as an actor allowed him to excel in multiple genres.

DeForest Kelley’s autobiography, “The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” was published in 1979.

He shared his experiences and insights in this captivating memoir.

He was posthumously inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2008.

Kelley’s impact on the small screen will forever be remembered.

DeForest Kelley’s portrayal of Dr. McCoy popularized the phrase “I’m giving it all she’s got, Captain!”

This iconic line has become an integral part of “Star Trek” lore.

He was a beloved and respected member of the “Star Trek” community.

Kelley’s dedication to the show and its fans was unparalleled.

DeForest Kelley’s influence extends beyond his role in “Star Trek.”

He left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment and will always be remembered as a true Hollywood legend.


DeForest Kelley, best known for his iconic role as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the original Star Trek series, was an extraordinary talent whose impact stretched far beyond the realm of science fiction. With a career spanning over six decades, Kelley left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry and remains beloved by fans worldwide.From his humble roots in Georgia to his meteoric rise to fame, Kelley’s journey was nothing short of remarkable. His portrayal of Dr. McCoy resonated with audiences, captivating them with his wit, compassion, and memorable catchphrases. But there was much more to Kelley than his Star Trek persona.Not only was he an accomplished actor, but Kelley was also a World War II veteran, a devoted husband, and a passionate advocate for animal welfare. He brought depth and authenticity to every role he played, leaving a lasting legacy that continues to inspire and entertain.In this article, we explored 24 extraordinary facts about DeForest Kelley, shedding light on his life, career, and the impact he had on those around him. From his touching friendship with co-star Leonard Nimoy to his dedication to charitable causes, Kelley’s story is one of resilience, talent, and genuine kindness.DeForest Kelley will always be remembered as a true legend of the silver screen, and his contributions to the world of entertainment will continue to be celebrated for generations to come.


Q: What other roles did DeForest Kelley play besides Dr. McCoy in Star Trek?

A: Before his iconic role as Dr. McCoy, Kelley appeared in numerous western films and television shows. He also had notable guest appearances in popular series like The Twilight Zone and Bonanza.

Q: Was DeForest Kelley a veteran?

A: Yes, Kelley served in the United States Army during World War II. He enlisted at the age of 19 and was stationed in the Pacific theater.

Q: Did DeForest Kelley ever win any awards for his acting?

A: While Kelley never received any major awards, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991 in recognition of his contributions to the entertainment industry.

Q: Did DeForest Kelley have any lasting friendships with his Star Trek co-stars?

A: Kelley had a particularly close friendship with Leonard Nimoy, who portrayed Spock in Star Trek. The two remained lifelong friends, even beyond their time on the show.

Q: Did DeForest Kelley have any notable hobbies or interests outside of acting?

A: Kelley was an avid lover of nature and animals. He dedicated much of his life to animal welfare causes and even served on the board of directors for the humane organization Actors and Others for Animals.

Q: What is DeForest Kelley’s legacy?

A: DeForest Kelley’s legacy spans both his distinguished career as an actor and his impact on the Star Trek franchise. He portrayed one of the most beloved characters in science fiction history and left an enduring mark on popular culture.

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